CNN employee finds DHS anti-terror plans for Super Bowl on plane - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

CNN employee finds DHS anti-terror plans for Super Bowl on plane

The documents had handling instructions saying, “this document should be stored in a locked drawer after business hours.” (Source: CNN) The documents had handling instructions saying, “this document should be stored in a locked drawer after business hours.” (Source: CNN)

(CNN) - Sensitive Department of Homeland Security documents - most marked for official use only - were found by a CNN employee in the seat back pocket of a commercial airplane.

The employee found 78 pages containing details of anti-terror preparations in the event of a biological attack during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The report specifically lays out handling instructions, stating, "at a minimum, this document should be stored in a locked drawer after business hours. The contents should not be shared with individuals who do not have operational need-to-know. (and) the document should be shredded before discarding."

Included in the documents was the travel itinerary of a senior manager at DHS - the man in charge of the government's detection and response to a bio-terror attack. Calls to him were not returned.

CNN was not able to verify who left the documents on the plane. The travel itinerary and boarding pass accompanying the documents were in the name of Michael V. Walter. According to his LinkedIn profile, Walter is a microbiologist and has been the program manager of Bio-Watch since 2009.

“Look I'm not going to pretend that this is America's crown jewels,” said former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem. “On the other hand, it is obviously significant that these were left behind. One, it shows sort of casualness about the safety and security that we're promising our state and local partners when we do these exercises and training. Secondly, who knows who else could have picked this up."

CNN said it notified DHS to let government officials know it found the documents. CNN is not revealing the most sensitive information in those documents.

The reports are based on two DHS exercises that simulated an anthrax attack at the Super Bowl. Along with listing what worked well, it details shortcomings exposed during those training exercises.

The concerns are marked as "areas for improvement," including confusion among health agencies concerning alerts, and even differences of opinion on determining just how many persons could potentially be exposed.

Former security experts told CNN that exercises, like those detailed in the documents, are designed to fix any problems.

“What you would expect to happen is that these teams are working together to say, ‘Hey we have a communications problem. We have a medical problem. We have scientific problem.’ Whatever the problem is, and to fix them quickly," said Kayyem.

CNN withheld reporting on this story until after the Super Bowl because DHS said that making the "lost papers" public beforehand could have jeopardized safety. DHS said the problems pointed out in the terror exercises were addressed.

DHS declined to comment on the official who left the documents on a plane, calling it a personnel matter.

Copyright 2018 CNN. All rights reserved.

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